Gloria Cordes Larson, JD, prominent lawyer, public policy expert, and business leader, was elected to the presidency of Bentley University by the Bentley Board of Trustees on July 1, 2007. She is the first woman to serve in this post.
Larson was drawn to the Boston area business school because of its approach to redefining business education -- by infusing a business curriculum with the arts and sciences. During Larson’s tenure, the former Bentley College became a university and established a number of new programs focused on the value of a business education. At the undergraduate level, the school expanded its commitment to a “fused” curriculum with double majors in business and the liberal arts, as well as new courses co-taught by business and arts & sciences faculty. One of its most recent innovations, the Bentley MBA, is an 11-month global program where students pursue four 10-week modules in a collaborative, studio-based setting. Larson also launched the Center for Women and Business at Bentley in 2011, committed to advancing shared leadership among women and men in the corporate world and developing women business leaders. A nationally recognized university leader, Larson is a member of the Executive Committee of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment, a member of the American Association of Colleges and Universities and the Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP) Presidents’ Trust.
Larson, formerly the co-chair of the Government Strategies Group at Foley Hoag LLP, a leading national law firm, managed a practice that covered a broad array of federal, state and local regulatory and business development issues, including real estate development, energy, insurance, environmental permitting, transportation, advertising and internet privacy matters.
Widely influential in economic policy, Larson led a business advisory cabinet for Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, and served as co-chair of his transition team in 2006. She was Secretary of Economic Affairs from 1993 to 1996 and Secretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation from 1991 to 1993, under Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Prior to her state service, she oversaw business and regulatory issues at the federal level as a senior official with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Larson served as an attorney advisor to FTC Commissioner Patricia Bailey from 1981 to 1988, and as the deputy director of Consumer Protection at the FTC from 1990 to 1991.
Larson is an advocate for education and job creation, a commitment which was evident in her work as co-chair of the board of the non-partisan think tank MassINC; co-chair of the Great Schools Campaign, a school reform partnership managed by the Mass Insight Education and Research Institute; and her role in Global Massachusetts 2015, a multi-year leadership initiative to create a vision for economic success in key and emerging industry sectors over the next decade. Larson served as co-chair of Governor Deval Patrick's Finance Commission for his education reform proposal, the Readiness Project, charged with recommending revenue sources to fund the project. She also served on the Commonwealth’s 2014 Successful Women, Successful Families Task Force and as a member of the Governor's Council of Economic Advisors for former Governor Deval Patrick.
Larson stepped down as the chairman of the board of the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) in 2010 after serving for more than a decade. Under her leadership the organization oversaw the renovation of the MassMutual Center in Springfield and the $800 million construction of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, which opened in June 2004 in Boston’s waterfront Innovation District. She was the first woman to serve as chairman of the board of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce and continues to serve on the chamber's executive committee.
As Secretary of Economic Affairs for Massachusetts, she was responsible for developing and promoting economic growth policies and fostering employment opportunities. While working as Massachusetts Secretary of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation she was responsible for banking, insurance and energy, as well as consumer protection. As Deputy Director of Consumer Protection for the FTC, Larson’s work included establishing national consumer protection policies and implementing law enforcement and educational efforts.
Larson was appointed by then-Governor Mitt Romney in January 2005 to the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy Board, where she served as vice chair of the board until October 2012. She was also chosen by Mayor Menino in 2004 to serve on the Boston Host Committee for the Democratic National Convention, and was appointed by Governor-Elect Mitt Romney in November 2002 to chair his Transportation and Housing Transition Team.
Larson serves as a director on the board of Unum Group, chairing Unum's Regulatory Compliance Committee, and as a director of Boston Private Financial Holdings Inc. Larson served on the Executive Committee for the Boston 2024 Partnership, the non-profit organization that attempted to bring the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games to Boston, and co-chaired the group’s College and University Engagement Committee. She also previously served as a director on the boards of KeySpan Energy and RSA Security before the companies were acquired by National Grid and EMC, respectively, as well as on the board of Blue Cross Blue Shield of MA. Larson presently holds the post of president of the Massachusetts Conference for Women and is the past president of the Massachusetts’ Women's Forum. In addition, she is a board or advisory council member of several prominent professional, charitable and civic organizations including Roger Williams University School of Law, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Massachusetts High Technology Council, University of Massachusetts Center for Collaborative Leadership and Rosie's Place. She is a member of the Bar in Massachusetts and Virginia.
Larson received her bachelor of arts with honors from Vassar College and earned her juris doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law. She received an Honorary Doctorate of Laws from Northeastern University in 2005 and from Mount Wachusett Community College in 2003. She is married to Allen Larson, an attorney. The Larsons are the proud owners of three Labrador retrievers, Harry Jr., Sally and Teak.
Larson has been honored and recognized by many groups for her contributions and commitment to civic duty, especially for raising awareness of the need for education reform and for promoting the role of business in changing that landscape.
Larson's honors include:
- Associated Industries of MA “Next Century” Award (2015)
- International Women’s Forum “Women Who Make a Difference” Award (2015)
- Boston Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful People” (2015)
- Boston Business Journal "Power 50: Influential Bostonians" (2012, 2014, 2015)
- Girls Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts Leading Women Award (2010)
- Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce inaugural recipient of the Collaborative Leadership Award (2009)
- Lawyer of the Year, Massachusetts Lawyer's Weekly and Massachusetts Bar Association (2006)
- The Academy of Distinguished Bostonians Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
- The Engineering Center Leadership Award (2004)
- Number one on the list of "100 Most Powerful Women in Boston" in Boston Magazine in 2003
- The Norman S. Rabb Human Relations Award, American Jewish Committee
- The Pinnacle Award from the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce
- The Abigail Adams Award from the Massachusetts Women's Political Caucus
- The International Business Leader Award from the International Management Development Association
- The New England Council Outstanding Women Business Leaders Award